YOUNG farmer Jack Nelson says the legacy of Lake Goldsmith's Matthew George has given him a rare chance to get off his farm for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore the industry.
Mr Nelson has been based in Canada for almost four months visiting cattle herds across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario to learn as much as he can to help his work back home.
Already Mr Nelson has been a judge at the Rosthern Town and Country Fair in Saskatchewan, visited the world-renowned Calgary Stampede and earned the Australian rights to a bull from a farm he spent a month helping.
Mr Nelson travels on the Matthew George Young Stockman Award, which next month will celebrate 10 years of sponsoring promising young Australian farmers for a working holiday in Canada to study beef cattle and genetics.
This was Matthew George's dream before he died, age 21, in a road accident near his home in late 2007.
Australia's Angus cattle community rallied with businesses in Beaufort and Ballarat to form the award in his memory. The George family are offering two scholarships this year to mark the award's milestone.
Mr Nelson's passion has been in learning about the cattle industry. He completed a diploma in agribusiness at Marcus Oldham College, in Geelong, before returning home to work and cooperate the family farm while also working part-time for stock and station agency Mulcahy Nelson Livestock in Tatura.
The dream for Mr Nelson is to establish a larger livestock operation with his dad, Sam Nelson.
"Commonly young people in agriculture have little to no chances of getting off farm and seeing something new," Mr Nelson told The Courier. "But this opportunity allows you to further your knowledge and skill set while contributing to the industry you're passionate about."
Mr Nelson said the major differences between Australian and Canadian cattle farms were about weather and labour. There were smaller windows for crops, which were planted as soon as the soil warmed up and harvested about 100-120 days later with little room for error, compared to the long Australian growing season. Cows only had a small period out to pasture, usually May to October, compared to those in Australia.
Minus-30 to 50-degree temperatures for calving in January requires large amounts of high-energy feeds to maintain body heat. Cows are fed and supplied fresh bedding daily and young calves must be dried in maternity pens to avoid frostbite.
Mr Nelson hoped to share what he was learning with other young farmers to improve their knowledge and efficiency in their operations.
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